Articles Posted in Emergency Room Errors

Michael Fava, 58, went to the emergency department complaining of leg pain that had not improved since he was seen at another hospital the previous day. He was diagnosed with having a retroperitoneal hemorrhage and a lack of blood flow to the legs.

However, the treating vascular surgeons, Dr. Harold Chung-Loy and Dr. Vincent Moss, chose not to determine the cause of the bleeding.

Fava spent four days in the hospital, which ended when he had bilateral above-the-knee leg amputations as a result of the lack of blood flow to his legs.
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In the confidential reporting of this case, Mr. Doe, 58, developed shortness of breath. He was admitted to a local hospital where he underwent various tests to rule out pulmonary embolism.

The hospital staff interpreted a pulmonary angiogram suspicious for, but not diagnostic of, an embolism. Mr. Doe was prescribed Coumadin and injectable Lovenox. He was then discharged from the hospital.

The following day, Mr. Doe returned to the emergency room complaining of severe abdominal pain. A CT scan and ultrasound showed a rectus sheath hematoma with internal bleeding. A rectus sheath hematoma is described as an accumulation of blood in the outer lining or sheath of the rectus abdominis muscle. The condition causes abdominal pain with or without a mass. The collection of blood or the hematoma may be caused by either rupture of the epigastric artery or by a muscular tear.
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Peter Sfameni, 55, stopped taking Warfarin before he underwent a colonoscopy and chose not to resume taking the medication after the procedure. He developed lower back pain, fatigue and weight loss, which prompted a trip to Rhode Island Hospital’s emergency room. He was admitted to the hospital, underwent a bone marrow biopsy and was scheduled for a lymph node biopsy. He was discharged with instructions not to take his blood thinners until a week after the upcoming lymph node biopsy.

Sfameni developed severe blood clots in his legs and lungs before the date of the biopsy. Sfameni returned to the hospital where doctors diagnosed gangrene in his right leg, which required an above-the-knee amputation.

Sfameni spent five months in the hospital, followed by four months in rehabilitation. He now uses a prosthesis and experiences constant phantom pain, anxiety and depression.
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Mary Stevenson was 55 years old when she was taken to the hospital suffering from a severe headache and shortness of breath. At the hospital, she was diagnosed as having hypertension; a doctor prescribed blood pressure medication. She also underwent blood work before being discharged to her home.

Within hours of her discharge, she began to experience seizures and vomiting. She was rushed to another hospital where she was diagnosed as having bacterial meningitis. She lost consciousness and died just two weeks later. She is survived by her two adult children.

One of Stevenson’s daughters, individually and on behalf of her estate, sued two doctors who treated her at the first hospital maintaining that they chose not to diagnose and treat bacterial meningitis.
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Nicole Hill was 33 years old when she went to the hospital emergency room complaining of acute lower back pain, as well as hip and leg pain. An emergency department doctor prescribed pain medication and sent her home.

Hill’s pain continued and as a result, she came back to the same hospital two weeks later telling the same doctor that her symptoms had increased and that she was suffering numbness and incontinence. She again was released with instructions to obtain an outpatient MRI.

Hill went to another hospital, this time a week later, and was diagnosed as having cauda equina syndrome and a massive disk herniation at level L5-S1. This condition is a medical emergency in most instances.

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Rebecca Gaither was transported by ambulance to West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, Ill., on Nov. 27, 2012 with complaints of rear lower head pain and vision loss in her right eye. At the emergency room, she complained of a sudden onset of neck pain with an immediate episode of seeing stars in her right eye.

The triage nurse assessed her blood pressure as elevated and assigned her to the next available treatment bed. During examination by an emergency department doctor, Gaither, who was just 47 years old at the time, reported a sudden onset of lost bilateral vision and sharp neck pain while she was reaching for a phone. Following a normal neurological exam, the ER doctor ordered CT scans of the head and neck with and without contrast, for a suspected dissection of the left vertebral artery.

However, Gaither collapsed and became unresponsive before the scans were done. She was immediately transferred from West Suburban Medical to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., where a CT angiogram showed a ruptured 1.6-centimeter aneurysm in the right ophthalmic artery, left vertebral artery dissection with arteriovenous fistula and extensive severe fibromuscular dysplasia.
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Dawn Arrigoni, 35, went to the emergency room at Woodwinds Hospital complaining of vomiting, fever and abdominal pain. The nurses there attempted to place a peripheral IV but had trouble placing it.

A nurse practitioner then placed an intraosseous (IO) line. An intraosseous infusion line is used in the process of injecting directly into the marrow of the bone to provide a non-collapsible entry point into the systemic venous system of a patient. This method is often used to provide fluids and medication when an IV is not practicable as in this case. The IO line is considered an efficient method to provide intravenous fluids or medication.

Shortly after the IO line was put in place, Arrigoni complained of significant pain for which she was given the pain reliever Dilaudid. Over an hour and a half later, a nurse noted swelling in her lower left leg, which appeared to be pale in color. She continued to complain to the hospital staff of leg pain.
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Aaron Riedel, who was 28 at the time, went to Lodi Community Hospital emergency room complaining of back pain. He told the emergency department staff that he was taking an antibiotic to treat a MRSA infection. Riedel was later discharged from Lodi Community Hospital with a diagnosis of simple muscle strain.

The next day, he returned to the emergency room with worsening back pain. Again, Riedel informed the emergency department staff about the antibiotic he was taking and his MRSA history. The emergency room physician, Dr. Christopher Kalapodis, ordered a CT scan, which ruled out a kidney stone as the cause of the problem.

Riedel was then given a dose of morphine and an anti-inflammatory before he was again discharged. The next day however, he required additional treatment in the emergency room where he was diagnosed as having a spinal epidural abscess. Despite efforts through surgery and rehabilitation, Riedel was left a paraplegic.
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This case arrived at the Illinois Appellate Court as an interlocutory appeal that came about from the plaintiff Eric Owens’s lawsuit against the defendant hospital, Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital, and its doctors related to the care received by Owens at the hospital’s emergency room in 2011. He initially named Dr. Ahmed Raziuddin as a defendant in the lawsuit as the physician who treated him in the emergency room based on Dr. Raziuddin’s name appearing in the hospital’s records as the treating physician.

However, it turns out that Dr. Raziuddin filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit claiming that he was not the doctor treating Owens and that a Dr. Seema Elahi was actually the treating physician. That motion was granted.

Owens then amended his complaint adding Dr. Elahi as a party defendant replacing Dr. Raziuddin. Dr. Elahi then filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the statute of limitations had expired.

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Virginia Schneider, 18, went to Griffin Hospital to be treated for a severe asthma attack. In the process of evaluating her condition, emergency physicians Dr. Gregory Boris and Dr. Alyssa French learned of her left leg pain and numbness. The doctors ordered an ultrasound to rule out a blood clot. When the ultrasound revealed an abnormality in the popliteal artery, the doctors consulted the on-call vascular surgeon, Dr. Marsel Huribal.

Dr. Huribal instructed the emergency room physicians to order a CT scan, which was read offsite by a radiologist, Dr. Jennifer Bryant. Although the full text of Dr. Bryant’s report was never transmitted to the hospital, Dr. French learned and later informed Dr. Huribal that there was a portion of the artery in Schneider’s leg that appeared to be blocked. Nevertheless, Dr. Huribal concluded that she did not have a blood clot.

The next day, radiologist Dr. Gregory Bell reviewed the CT scan and contacted Dr. Huribal who reiterated that he did not believe that Schneider had a blood clot. Over the following weekend, her condition deteriorated rapidly. At an appointment several days later, her foot was found to lack pulses, and she was rushed to the hospital. Despite multiple procedures to restore circulation in the leg, it was concluded that her leg had to be amputated.
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